Enhancing the Value Chain Competitiveness of Sesame and Fonio in Mali and Burkina Faso

IRD is using proceeds from monetization of wheat, vegetable oil, and rice to enhance the value chain and market competitiveness of fonio and sesame in three regions in Mali and Burkina Faso, thereby improving the livelihoods of thousands of small farmers and rural entrepreneurs.


The $4 million program, funded by the US Department of Agriculture under the Food for Progress program operates in three regions in Mali – Koulikoro, Segou, and Mopti – focusing on:

  • Increasing farm production and productivity through the dissemination of improved seed varieties and training in modern agricultural practices.
  • Improving processing and transformation opportunities through the introduction of appropriate technologies (including hullers, threshers, and dryers) as well as facilitating access to credit and linkages to financial institutions.
  • Providing management training and organizational capacity building to farmers’ organizations, women’s groups, and small-scale businesses, with a special focus on entrepreneurial skills, value chain analysis, agricultural marketing, product demonstration, branding, packaging, and market penetration.

The project targets small-scale farmers, women’s and artisanal groups engaged in processing, and rural entrepreneurs and small businesses. Priority is given to 1) farmers who currently own and manage 1–10 hectares of land, either privately or as communal holdings; 2) sesame and fonio farm families with total income below the national poverty level; 3) women processors who do not qualify for a bank loan to buy modern processing equipment; and 4) educated, unemployed youth/rural entrepreneurs from families earning below the national poverty level who are interested in value chain of sesame and fonio.

Burkina Faso

IRD will use the proceeds from monetization of 10,500 metric tons of rice over three years to enhance the competitiveness of the sesame and fonio value chains in Burkina Faso. The $6.3 million project will benefit 33,000 farmers and 330 small and medium enterprises in the country’s western regions of Bouclé de Mouhoun, Cascades, and Hauts-Bassins. Farmers, rural entrepreneurs, processors, and traders will see improved income through three main activities:

  • Increased production and productivity by strengthening farmer organizations, expanding availability and access to improved seed varieties, and training to improve soil fertility, integrated pest and disease control, and crop management practices.
  • Improved post-harvest handling and agro-processing of sesame and fonio by increasing the availability of appropriate technologies in rural areas.
  • Increased access to fi nancial, credit, and business development services.

In October 2008, IRD began implementing a USDA-funded cashew value chain competitiveness program in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea Bissau. A similar program was launched the next year in Mali with a focus on sesame and fonio. The program in Burkina Faso will build on these experiences and contribute to IRD’s West Africa regional strategy to support increased productivity and profitability of crops and livestock value chains with the most potential to raise incomes of smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs. This project will have a tangible impact on Burkina Faso’s private sector development by introducing demand-driven innovations that will create market opportunities for small farmers and businesses. As farmers benefit from improved production and processing technologies, entrepreneurs will expand into local and regional markets.

One anticipated result is that trade in raw and processed fonio and sesame will increase as will prices due to improved quality. Another result will be increased availability of fonio and sesame by-products, especially pressedoil for human consumption and fonio husks for poultry feed, for local and cross-border trade—especially with Mali. By adding value along the entire fonio and sesame value chains, the
project will create considerable employment opportunities, especially for the women who traditionally do most of the processing and transformation of sesame and fonio. The promotion of these crops in particular will secure higher paying jobs for women while enhancing their business community leadership.